Rehoboth Basters: Keeping the Culture Alive
The Rehoboth Basters are struggling to keep their culture alive and reclaim their autonomy from the Namibian government.
Below are extracts from an article written by Sean Thomas and published by The First Post:
It's been a long drive across
On the way I've encountered many other Namibian racial groups.
But according to reports the group of people I'm about to encounter are the most extraordinary of all. The Basters of Rehoboth.
If the name 'Basters' sounds a little pejorative, that's no coincidence. The term actually means 'bastards' in Dutch. Yet the Basters wear this label proudly, because it speaks to them of their heritage: they are the offspring of 18th-century crossbreeding between Dutch Afrikaaners and Khoisan Bushmen.
Such interbreeding created an awkward situation for the racist and colonial psyche of the time. The Basters were deemed to be 'superior' to normal black people, by the Dutch and English, but were still too black to be accepted as proper Europeans. Black people in turn regarded the 'half-breeds' as somehow treacherous.
The Basters themselves found this situation insulting - and uncomfortable. Consequently in 1868 they quit the
As I walk around the dusty market town of Rehoboth, I can see one result of the Basters' unusual lineage: those tall blond Dutch genes, married to petite Khoisan physiques - and high cheekbones - make for great beauty.
The Basters are also notably old-fashioned. They speak pure 18th-century Dutch, and they practice a fierce Lutheran faith; they also, according to anecdotes, like a drink. Perhaps this helps them get over their famous shyness.
So what's the problem? The Basters themselves worry that their culture is going to dissolve into